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Gary Payton on Michael Jordan: "He could not guard me"

Gary Payton is one of the rare guys to stand up against MJ with no fear.
Gary Payton and Michael Jordan

Gary Payton and Michael Jordan

The NBA has had its fair share of trash-talkers, but none of them were quite as good as the legendary Gary Payton. Not only one of the best defensive point guards in NBA history, "The Glove" played fearlessly no matter who was on the other end, giving them the business with the ball and his mouth.

The Jordan rivalry

Michael Jordan wasn't really the guy you wanted to have as a rival or arch-nemesis. Well, except if you were Gary Payton. The point guard spent his best NBA days with the Seattle SuperSonics, even leading them all the way to the Finals in 1996. Of course, they would face MJ and the Bulls there.

It was a hard-fought Finals series, in which the Bulls led 3-0, only for the Sonics to win two games in a row after switching Payton onto Jordan. But it was too little, too late to pull off the magical comeback. But still, the way Jordan's numbers dropped after Payton became his primary defender caught the eye of many:

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Of course, a few years ago, The Last Dance documentary came out, and we all saw Payton talking himself up and saying he was making it hard for Jordan, only to give us the iconic meme of MJ laughing at GP's words.

It was hilarious, but we all thought this wouldn't sit well with the talkative Payton. On various occasions, Gary explained it doesn't bother him because he is the same type of guy, confident in his abilities and competitive to a fault. But he elaborated on it a bit more when talking with Colin Cowherd:

"If he didn't say that, I wouldn't respect him. I wouldn't even look at him anymore because he's a competitor like me. I look forward to guarding him. He laughed. I would have laughed the same thing. Because I don't think he can guard me...It's a respect thing.", Payton said about the whole situation.

You know damn well when Gary Payton says MJ couldn't guard him that believes it, whether it's true or not. If we handed MJ a tablet to react to this statement from "The Glove," it would probably give us another iconic meme template to use for the foreseeable future. Just a fun old-school rivalry between two legends.

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